The Signs You Don't Want To See, The Conversation You Dread Having: How To Initiate A Dialogue About Substance Use Disorder During A Pandemic

Posted Aug 02, 2020

Psychotherapist Jennifer Musselman Offers Downloadable Guidelines on Spotting the Signs, Starting a Conversation, and Sparking Change in a Toxic Company Culture

Downloadables Are Available Now at 

Something doesn’t seem right. She chimes in late for the Monday morning Zoom meeting, and  lacks her usual energy and good cheer. Her attention wanders, and she asks for an extension on her assignment. Is she sick? Depressed? Or is she showing signs of a problem with alcohol or drugs? 

Unfortunately, during these pandemic days, it could easily be the latter. And as National Recovery Month and Sober September approach this fall, now is the time to start talking about it. Consider these statistics on substance use during COVID:

-1 in 3 Americans is more likely to drink alcohol during working hours while in lockdown, according to an survey of people working from home.

-Online sales of alcohol increased more than 200% during the pandemic

-The pandemic is exacerbating opioid use—and face-to-face treatment programs were unavailable for months

-A recent study estimated that deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drug use linked to the pandemic could reach 150,000 

That’s why Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based psychotherapist Jennifer Musselman has created a series of downloadable guidelines dedicated to: spotting the signs of substance use disorder; initiating a conversation with your colleague or employee (and the differences between those two conversations); and inspiring change in a company culture that condones or triggers substance use.

Musselman, known as the “CEO therapist” by her executive clients at Apple, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Netflix, Accenture and more, also has years of experience working with the nonprofit CLARE Foundation, a recovery and behavioral health organization. 

“No one wants to have this conversation, but when you care about someone you work with, this is truly the most important work you can do—as a colleague, as a boss, or just as a human being,” Musselman says. “But I know that most people have no idea how to accurately spot the signs or how to find the right words to say. That’s why I wanted to provide these guidelines, which can serve as a launching point for positive change.”

“Spotting the Signs,” “Having the Conversation,” and “Changing Company Culture” are available to download for free at


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About Jennifer Musselman

Jennifer Musselman is a psychotherapist and leadership coach in San Francisco and Los Angeles, specializing in the intersection of home and work life with clients from Netflix, Apple, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Salesforce, Fast Company, and more. Her expertise has been featured in such outlets as Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine and Vice, among many others. 

A former corporate executive for MTV Networks/Nickelodeon Television, Musselman went back to school midlife to become a psychotherapist following her own experience with a declining work culture and the impact on her well-being and relationships. Musselman spent four years as a director with the nonprofit CLARE Foundation in Santa Monica, a behavioral health organization helping clients overcome addiction.

Musselman holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and is completing her doctoral work at USC in Change Management & Leadership. She is licensed by the California State Board of Behavioral Science as a Marriage and Family Therapist.